Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, May 11, 2009

167 Healing

Tourists come here to Cusco
to Macchu Picchu, to marvel at
quaint colonial plazas with arched colonades
that rest on Incan stone.
They pass through churches
as lightly and quickly as hummingbirds.

I am walking in the great central
Plaza de las Armas, blue sky above me
marked by high white clouds.
Mountains surround me
for Cusco is the navel of the world.
I can see the great Cathedral, its
Baroque bell towers rest on
solid Incan stone.

Here in this, plaza, 500 years ago,
Incan leaders were put to death,
great fires consumed their cloths,
fine embroidered cottons embellished
with feathers,
their gold and silver from the temples
replated on Catholic altars,
each church racing to build the finest church,
Baroque serpentine columns
rise 50 and 60 feet high.
Even a statue of Christ turns black
in sorrow, Lord of Thunder.

I see the bronze cross Pizarro carried,
high on an altar,
read excerpts from old chronicles,
one a 1,200 page letter sent to Phillip the II
that most likely lay unread until found
in a Copenhagen warehouse in 1908.

Guaman Poma de Ayala wrote:
"Our Indians, who may have been barbarous
yet were still good creatures,
wept for their idols when these were broken up
at the time of the Conquest.
But it is the Christians
who still adore property,
gold and silver
as their idols."

How do we heal history?
How do we heal the world?

Peru remains an impoverished country, dependent on tourism, with 50% unemployment. The churches here are marvels of Baroque architecture and a style called Cusconesque Baroque. The Spaniards required the Incans to build churches out of the stones of their temples and taught them to paint and sculpt and carve. The result is subversive and somewhat hidden Incan symbols embedded with the icons of Christianity, the sun headdress adorning the Christian god. At first I wanted to write a personal response to Sunday Scribblings prompt 167 on healing, but this history is unfolding before me. Our world is much in need of healing.

Church of the Company of Jesus, Plaza Mayor, Cuzco
Church of the Company of Jesus, Plaza Mayor, Cusco (source Webshots)


  1. This was great. Really got the feel for the place and events.

  2. Interesting post - thanks!

  3. The Catholic church has done some pretty horrendous things, things I doubt Jesus would have ever done. It's great to discover, though, how the Incans were able to fight back, in whatever small way. And it's great to learn about it through such an eloquent poem.

  4. Anonymous9:47 AM

    This was spiritual as well as informative.

  5. very interesting!

  6. Amen - and I think in looking at our history honestly we can learn how that healing can begin. Thanks for sharing this piece of history :)